One of the most concerning adverse effects of phenytoin usage is gingival hyperplasia or the overgrowth of gums. Doctor Arya and colleagues from the Department of Pediatrics and Neurology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, India, presented results from a randomized study addressing whether this particular side effect can be prevented. In the April 12, 2011 issue of Neurology the investigators randomize a total of 120 children to either a placebo or to .5 mg/day of folate or folic acid in children aged between 6-15 years who had recently been started on phenytoin. The investigators found that 21% of patients who were given folic acid developed the gum overgrowth; whereas, 88% of patients receiving the placebo developed this side effect. This study is important in that it shows that oral folic acid given to children who are placed on phenytoin will decrease the incidence of gum overgrowth that happen to be on this agent. It is unclear whether this effect is seen in adults.
Joseph Sirven, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 5/15/11
Article from the May 2011 Epilepsy.com Spotlight Newsletter. Other articles in this issue inclue: